Environmental Response Team
The Environmental Response Team (ERT) is a FDEP founded team
whose members are from different State and county organizations from
around the State of Florida. Members volunteer to be a part of the
team but are selected for their capabilities.
Environmental Response Team sample
contents of a drum.
ERT provides technical assistance as well as investigative and
forensic sampling support at an event in which an environmental
pollution incident or public health threat, outlined under Chapters
403 and 376, F.S., has occurred. A request for the team’s deployment
may come from local fire departments, the State Watch Office, the
Regional Domestic Security Task Force, local emergency management
directors, or other State and Federal agencies.
The ERT has the ability to have at least a partial team on-scene
in no more than two (2) hours of the request for assistance with the
full team on-scene within eight (8) hours. The ERT has environmental
investigators and other law enforcement personnel who can enter
contaminated areas known as “hot-zones” for the purpose of
documenting and collecting criminal evidence. Additionally, the ERT
has trained technician-level responders that have the ability to
conduct forensic sampling of unknown materials for the purpose of
field and analytical testing at an appropriate support laboratory.
At present, members have been drawn from the following agencies:
- Department of Environmental Protection
- Florida Fish
& Wildlife Conservation Commission
- Department of Health
Environmental Response Team approaching overturned drum in the exclusion zone.
- Department of Financial Services, Fire and Arson
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), RDSTF Forensics
- Florida Highway Patrol
- Local Law
While the ERT was born out of the 9/11 tragedy and consequently
receives a large portion of it’s funding from the Department of
Homeland Security, the team has recently began to focus on more
common incident types. These incidents might include; large amounts
of abandoned industrial waste, clandestine labs, illegal dump sites
that occur on State lands, etc.
Such was the scenario during the Spring 2014 full-scale exercise
which was conducted over a four-day period from April 8 – April 11,
2014 at the Florida State Fire College in Ocala, FL. This exercise
simulated an environmental crime in a state park involving hazardous
materials with an unfolding terrorism element. ERT worked with the
regional Forensic Response Team and both groups successfully
completed the exercise, as determined by the third party evaluator
EREC. The exercise was an advanced competency review and provided
significant and specialized preparedness to each team member that
upon completion, allowed member to take competencies back to their
individual departments to enhance their day-to-day duties.
Environmental Response Team instructional video